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Media Contact:

(for this release

David March

PENN Medicine Department of Public Affairs
(215) 615-3353

Karen Warrington
Office of Congressman Brady
(215) 389-4627

Chantal Guess
(703) 526-6746

July 24, 2003

This release was issued from the office of Congressman Robert A. Brady (D.,PA) and mentions the planned work of a PENN Medicine researcher.

Brady Announces Collaborative Grant to University of Pennsylvania, Uzbek Scientists to Develop Radiation Injury Treatment

(Washington, DC) - Congressman Robert A. Brady (D., PA), a member of the House Armed Services and House Administration Committees, in conjunction with the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation, announced today a cooperative anti-terrorism research grant of $68,000 to a team of University of Pennsylvania and Russian scientists who will be working on treatments for radiation injuries and the management of blood diseases. The grant comes from the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF).

Congressman Brady said the grant supports innovative and cooperative research that is critical in the global fight against terrorism. "These times demand scientific innovation to counter the complexity of the dangers the world faces because of the spread of weapons of mass destruction."

The joint U.S.-Russian team is headed by Martin Carroll, MD, member of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and assistant professor at Penn's School of Medicine, and Rustam Usmanov of the Institute of Biochemistry in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The scientists will study certain compounds found in the spleen of the Central Asian tortoise - a species that has shown a resistance to radiation that is 50 to 100 time greater than that of a human being's or any other mammal.

According to Dr. Carroll, current medicine does not offer completely effective treatment against severe radiation injury - a factor to consider in the face of potential nuclear terrorist threats. The Central Asian tortoise could, however, offer a solution.

"The immune systems of irradiated laboratory mice, when injected with spleen extracts of the tortoise, have shown a marked increase in activity," says Dr. Carroll. "Working with our Uzbek counterparts, we plan to decode the therapeutic components in those extracts, find out how they work and then incorporate them into modern medicine."

The cooperative research anti-terrorism grant is part of a series of awards that fall under the CRDF's Special Competition for Research on Minimizing the Effects of Terrorist Acts on Civilian Populations . The Special Competition is the foundation's response to the events of September 11, 2001 and was authorized by the CRDF Board of Directors as a meaningful and timely contribution to the fight against terrorism.

Each grant provides nine months of support to joint teams of U.S. and former Soviet scientists working on finding innovative solutions to minimize the impact of terrorist threats. A large portion of the grant goes to the FSU team for individual financial support, equipment, supplies and travel support, as well as institutional support to the FSU grantee institution. The remaining portion of the grant goes to U.S. team expenses for travel, supplies, and graduate student stipends.

Funding for the CRDF Cooperative Grants Program, which sponsors the cooperative research anti-terrorism grants, comes from the U.S. Department of State, National Science Foundation, and National Institutes of Health. The CRDF is currently completing its review of additional proposals and plans to announce further cooperative research awards in the near future.

The U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization authorized by the U.S. Congress and established by the National Science Foundation in 1995. The CRDF supports scientific and technical collaboration between the United States and the countries of the former Soviet Union through grants, technical resources, and training. The foundation also promotes the transition of weapons scientists to civilian work to help reduce the global spread of weapons of mass destruction. The CRDF is based in Arlington, Virginia with offices in Moscow, Russia and Kyiv, Ukraine.

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Martin Carroll, MD, member of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and assistant professor at Penn's School of Medicine, holds vial of protein extract from the Central Asian tortoise. The proteins will be studied for their properties that guard against radiation injury. (2003) For larger image, click here.





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